Wednesday, 28 January 2015

HG Bishop Angaelos speaks at the Houses of Parliament regarding 'The characteristics of our British national identity'


On 27 January 2015 the Maranatha Community in the United Kingdom presented a statement in the Houses of Parliament regarding ‘The characteristics of our British national identity’. The meeting, chaired by Fiona Bruce MP, was attended by members of Parliament, various faith leaders and members of the public. The meeting was introduced by Dennis Wrigley, co-founder and co-leader of the Maranatha Community, who said the following:

“Our British values are firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian inheritance…it is not a question of making a Christian assertion but recognising what the historians have noted over centuries. Every man, woman and child is of value…These foundations if removed will lead to the collapse of our society.”

Presentations then followed from Phil Quenby who gave a historical perspective, John Scriven from a legal perspective, Edmund Matyjaszek as Headmaster, and His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom who spoke of the importance of the issue at this time in the life of our nation, and within the context of global events.

In speaking of the nature of British society, Bishop Angaelos said:

“It is not about declaring ourselves a Christian country, but continuing to be a country that embraces all according to the Christian origins of its laws and ideology.”

Commenting on the common misconception that Christianity is exclusive and alienating he went on to say:

“It is disconcerting that whenever Christians overtly live their faith and speak of Christian understanding and values, they are often perceived to be radicals who reject all others; yet this is certainly not the case. What we must remember as Christians however, is that in speaking prophetically and powerfully we must at the same time speak with sensitivity and empathy.”

In conclusion His Grace offered words of encouragement, saying:

“Through a realised, truly lived and visible unity as Christians, we must work within our complex societies and through obstacles set before us to always give a reason for the hope that is in us.”

After the presentations speakers took questions from the floor, and Dennis Wrigley concluded with the following aims:

“The need for a recognition of a set of values is desperately and urgently needed before the general election…the time has now come for Christians to define how human love and human kindness in the name of Jesus operates…there is hope when we reaffirm our values.”

After the meeting the statement was delivered to 10 Downing Street for the Rt. Hon. David Cameron as well as to Buckingham Palace for Her Majesty the Queen.





Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Prayer service with His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Bishop Angaelos and various Church leaders and representatives at Lambeth Palace to mark the first day of WPCU 2015

On Monday 19 January 2015 Church leaders and representatives gathered in the Crypt at Lambeth Palace at the invitation of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury to share in a prayer service under the auspices of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) marking the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU).

In his warm welcome, the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, read from a Middle East Council of Churches letter which called for unified prayer efforts and advocacy:

“Prayerfully together, we call upon all our fellow Christians around the world, both clergy and laity, who are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to share with us our fervent and passionate prayer for peace in our beloved and suffering Orient, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, who are currently facing the harshest waves of persecution…We appeal for your prayers and ask you to spare no efforts of advocacy wherever and whenever possible, to alleviate and end this painful and tragic reality, and to bring a safe and immediate release to all who have been kidnapped and to preserve a sustainable and peaceful Christian presence in the Middle East.”

During the service, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and Moderator of CTBI, delivered the sermon in which he said:

“Some may have asked today whether this service should have been in an Orthodox Cathedral, a Church of England Abbey, or in this Crypt, but at the end of the day it does not matter; the fact is that we are here, and how wonderful and blessed it is for us to be here to pray together.”

Speaking of the potential hindrances to realised unity he said:

“Of course we have traditions, history, and practices, but they should never become an obstacle to us worshipping the Father. We now come together in the identity that is most core to us; before we are called Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Evangelicals, or Free Church, we are called Christians and that is what we gather as today.”

Commenting on the suffering of many across the world Bishop Angaelos went on to say:

“There is no greater time for us to worship and gather because there has never been a greater need for us to stand and pray together. The world needs us; those suffering the effects of Ebola, HIV, and other diseases need us; the persecuted Church in the Middle East, Nigeria and around the world needs us, those suffering the results of global, ruthless, heartless terrorism that rocks our own communities need us, and contentiously, even those who are manipulated into horrible acts of violence need us; they all need us to stand to pray today.”

Concluding his sermon he said:

“Today we must work towards that one presence of one Body before one Lord. The ecumenical journey is a challenging one, but not impossible, and at the end of the day it is Christ's journey for us. Small sparks, like today, can turn into blazing infernos of the work of the Spirit; we are here as one such spark, albeit an important one.”

The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ‘The Well is Deep’ comes from the Churches in Brazil and is inspired by the account of the Samaritan woman found in the Gospel of John 4:1-42. The WPCU encourages Churches around the world to interact with other Christian denominations, and further develop and strengthen existing bonds through prayer, collaboration and shared witness. The service was led by Canon Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of CTBI. 


Members of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI) Steering Committee, currently meeting at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom to discuss and prepare for the LOI 2015 International Consultation in Finland, also attended the service. 

*Ends*

Listen to the Sermon by HG Bishop Angaelos here: http://bit.ly/15sfhQU

Monday, 5 January 2015

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos regarding escalating attacks on Coptic Christians in Libya

For immediate use
5 January 2015

​Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom regarding escalating attacks on Coptic Christians in Libya

It is deeply concerning to witness the unprovoked, targeted and escalating attacks on Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, particularly but not exclusively in Sirte.

In recent years Coptic Christians in Libya have endured horrific acts of brutality that include the bombing of churches, abductions, torture, and execution style murders. In recent weeks alone we have seen the murder of a Coptic Christian couple and their thirteen year old daughter in Sirte, and the kidnapping of thirteen Coptic men in the same area. Since December 2014 to date there have been reports of at least twenty abductions of Coptic Christians in Libya and these numbers continue to escalate.

In personal conversation with His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, as well as representatives from the Diocese of Boheira and Pentapolis, we are aware that the Egyptian government is liaising with Libyan authorities and working to provide safe passage for Coptic Christians returning from Libya, an initiative welcomed at this time.

Out of serious concern and in light of these circumstances a meeting is currently being sought with the Libyan Ambassador to Britain for further discussion of these constantly evolving events.

At a time when Coptic and other Christian families are preparing to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, we pray for those who are literally concerned for their lives in Libya as well as for countless other Christians and minority groups across the Middle East who are victims of war, violence, and unrest.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A message for the New Year by His Grace Bishop Angaelos

A message for the New Year by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop
of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom 
2014 has been a challenging year, demanding greater humanitarian assistance and advocacy for a variety of people across the world, and in many instances this has generated an immensely positive response from individuals and society as a whole. For that reason, while reflecting on the darkness of the tragedies that have been unfolding, we must also remember to give thanks for the light shining through the good works of faithful people in their response to them, some of whom have sadly paid the ultimate price.
Through these occurrences the world has experienced an extremist narrative seeking the destruction of centuries-old communities. In response to this alarming development however, there have been greater unified efforts across the ecumenical and inter-religious spectrums to express solidarity with, advocate on behalf of, and provide much needed aid to, those suffering.
Religious and civic leaders have been challenged to speak out against violations of basic human rights, and in many cases have responded to that call with a greater sense of responsibility and commitment. This response however, is still disproportionate to the suffering, destruction and devastation that has been experienced, and much remains to be done.
It is increasingly difficult to provide hope with the backdrop of those who continue to suffer gross violations of their rights, and yet we are reminded, particularly at this time of the year, that through the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the whole of humanity has been freely gifted with respect, love and peace through the message of Salvation.
The global community is founded upon the safeguarding of fundamental principles of God-given freedom, liberty, and equality, and while many around the world are denied these rights, we who are free to enjoy them must advocate and do all we can to protect those same rights for them. We have an individual and collective responsibility towards our brothers and sisters, regardless of their religious affiliation, as every individual is entitled to live in peace, and with the freedom to choose and live his or her faith, as long as that does not impede on the choices of others.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was born into adversity and poverty, and at an early age fled to, and sought asylum in, Egypt. His family fled from oppressive persecution, and He continued to live His life facing immense challenges and struggles in order that we may find comfort in His example and His victory over all that seeks to overcome us. Our Lord warned us that “in the world you will have tribulation,” but then immediately reassures us with His powerfully comforting words “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
When considering oppression on a global scale, or closer to home, we must remember that God bestowed basic human rights upon the whole of humanity, and where those rights are violated we must act, because we are reminded that “faith [in this principle] without works is dead” (James 2:26).
We should take the opportunity at the beginning of this New Year to consider how we as individuals and communities can positively impact the lives of those around us, beginning with correcting those things within ourselves that may cause pain to others.
I wish you all the blessings of the Feast of the holy Nativity, and a New Year filled with good health, success and joy in all that it is dear.
+Angaelos
General Bishop
Coptic Orthodox Church
United Kingdom

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos on Human Rights Day 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on Human Rights Day 2014

As the world marks human rights day and celebrates the freedom that is experienced by many, it remains the responsibility of us all, especially those in positions of influence, to advocate for those for whom those fundamental rights are still violated.


As Christians we believe that God has given humanity the respect and freedom to choose and live its faith, and this right is further enshrined in international treaties and agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human rights. It is unfortunate therefore to acknowledge that an unacceptably large proportion of the world’s population continues to suffer human rights violations and lives without these freedoms.

Guarding basic human rights for all must be taken seriously. In Scripture[1] we are reminded to speak for truth, justice and peace; this is both a responsibility and an obligation. As individuals we should advocate for those who suffer gross violations of their basic human rights, but when our efforts are expressed in unity and solidarity with people across denominations and faiths then they are far more powerful and effective for all.
As we celebrate Christmas and the New Year, we must remember those less fortunate or free than ourselves, and continue to encourage and support those who find themselves displaced, homeless, or at great risk, reminding them that they are not forgotten.
We pray for those deprived of their basic human rights across the world, as well as for continued strength to those who advocate for them, confident that those prayers and the cries of all who call upon Him are heard, reminded that “I have surely seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7).




[1] The Holy Bible, Zechariah 8:16, NKJV

*Ends*

Resources:
Human Rights Day 10 December 2013: HG Bishop Angaelos Testimony at US Congressional Hearing re Human Rights Abuses in Egypt. Watch HERE

Follow His Grace Bishop Angaelos on Twitter @BishopAngaelos




[1] The Holy Bible, Zechariah 8:16, NKJV

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Church of England General Synod Panel on violence against minorities in Syria and Iraq


On 18 November 2014 His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom participated in a panel discussion chaired by the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, on violence against minorities in Iraq and Syria. The panel discussion took place during The Church of England General Synod, and the other panellists were: The Bishop of Leeds, The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines, The Revd Rachel Carnegie, Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance and Shaykh Fuad Nahdi, Executive Director of the Radical Middle Way.

As moderator of the panel, The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, The Bishop of Coventry began proceedings by framing the discussion as one that should deal with listening to each other and ascertaining how the brokenness in the Middle East, in particular Iraq and Syria, has come about and what appropriate action can be taken in response.

During the discussion His Grace Bishop Angaelos spoke of the need to keep the plight of those suffering in the Middle East in the forefront of prayers and advocacy efforts despite a constant shift in media focus and narrative. He made mention of the urgent need for humanitarian aid for those in Iraq and Syria as well as the safeguarding of their religious freedom, saying:

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other such agreements merely safeguard God-given liberties. Since the basis of our freedom is found in Scripture we have the credibility and responsibility as the Church to advocate for all regardless of religious affiliation.”

Bishop Angaelos spoke of those in Iraq and Syria who desire to continue living in their homelands despite the persecution faced, as well as others who are asking to leave and are seeking asylum in Great Britain. He went on to say that in responding to the situation decision makers must not be prescriptive but directly responsive to these people and their needs. Going on to clarify that if they feel that they have a viable presence then they must be supported there, but if they feel unable to continue due to risks upon them, their families and communities, then we must provide the means for their relocation by granting them asylum where we can. His Grace also expressed his thanks to Her Majesty’s government and humanitarian organisations for providing support and aid to those in need.

In response to the notion presented that there is no compulsion in religion and in answer to the question “Is there a future for these communities to continue to live together?” Bishop Angaelos expressed that it is unquestionable that there is evidence of compulsion and even retribution for some of those who wish to live, practice and choose their faith freely. He also stressed the need for prominent leaders within Muslim communities to condemn these violations and encourage a greater openness and acceptance. Bishop Angaelos concluded by saying that while there is a radical and vocal fringe, when the Christian voice is added to an accepting and embracing Muslim voice this is a sizeable, powerful and effective majority.

Lastly His Grace spoke of the essential need for a message of solidarity and unity from the Church in the United Kingdom, referring to the Body of Christ as a means of support and strength for all those suffering persecution in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. His Grace emphasized the need to cease using the artificial discrepancy of referring to the ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ Church, going on to say that the Church must, now more than ever, speak and respond to the suffering of those in the Middle East in a collective and unified manner.
Shaykh Fuad Nahdi spoke of the persecution of Christians as heinous and unacceptable for any human being, speaking of the importance of coexistence saying:

“We must share the example about coexistence and show compassion, but above all things we must fight ignorance.”

The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines, who has previously written a letter to The Rt Honourable Prime Minister David Cameron in response to the situation in Iraq and Syria, spoke of the importance of not only being reactive but having a long-term view in responding to the crisis. In answering a question regarding the importance of media reporting, he said:

“Religious literacy is needed in the media. We need also to praise them when they report well. We must remember that journalists are also losing their lives and we need to pray and support them.”

The Revd Rachel Carnegie spoke about horrifying reports of individuals who are being persecuted for their faith in Syria and Iraq, while also speaking about the hopeful initiatives and work of those who are providing humanitarian assistance in the region and urging the Church to continue in prayer for those suffering, saying:

“We must continue to pray as prayer becomes the foundation of our response, for protection, provision, and perseverance.’

The session was closed with prayer by The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Press Release: HH Pope Tawadros II received by HH Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia


PRESS RELEASE
For immediate use
29 October 2014

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, accompanied by a papal delegation, was received by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the Russian Patriarchate on 29 October 2014. 

The visit, that included a formal meeting of delegations, followed by lunch, marks 26 years since the most recent visit of the last Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness, the late Pope Shenouda III.

During the meeting at the Patriarchate, His Holiness Pope Tawadros spoke of the great heritage of spirituality and monastic tradition within the Russian Orthodox Church and commented on its contemporary role and influence, suggesting that:

“Collaboration between our Churches will be of great value to our people, both in Egypt and Russia, and a symbol of proactive unity to the whole world.”

The two heads of Churches discussed various matters including contemporary social life, pastoral care, education and issues of morality, while also touching on the current events affecting both Egypt and Russia.

During the meeting, a joint bilateral committee was established to be headed by His Grace Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles and His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations in Moscow. They will present a proposed plan to Pope Tawadros and Patriarch Kirill regarding conversation and collaboration on spiritual living, pastoral care, education and social ministry between the Churches. 

Outside the Patriarchate in Moscow, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This has been a very positive meeting with a spirit that desires collaboration and a deepening of relationships. We have seen the heads of these two ancient and significant Churches side by side and speaking with almost identical words of hope, unity and collaboration. This is only the beginning of what I am sure will prove to be an even deeper, stronger, and more effective relationship between our Churches. We pray that this spirit be conveyed to our faithful and that it may be replicated in all of our ecumenical and inter-Church relationships.”

Earlier that day Pope Tawadros, accompanied by the Coptic Orthodox delegation and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation, was received by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Sergey Lavrov at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.  

During the meeting with His Holiness, the Foreign Minister said:

“This is a historic visit because, with respect to all history and previous visits, it is the first visit of the Coptic Orthodox Pope to what is now the Russian Federation, and we welcome you, while at the same time recognising the great role of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and the Middle East region.” 

Throughout the duration of his stay Pope Tawadros will visit a number of significant Russian Orthodox churches and monasteries, while also undertaking various official and pastoral engagements with the Coptic faithful.

Accompanying His Holiness is a delegation comprising Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and Their Graces: Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles, Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and Papal secretary Father Angelos Ishak and official spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Boules Haleem. 


*Ends*

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Press Release: His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Russia for historic visit

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate use
28 October 2014

​Coptic Orthodox Church UK

Media and Communications Office


Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, accompanied by a papal delegation, arrived in Russia on 28 October 2014 ahead of a historic visit. 



HH Pope Tawadros will visit His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on 29 October 2014, marking 26 years since the visit of the previous Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda III, who had participated in the celebration of the Millennium of the Christianisation of Russia and the baptism of St Vladimir.

His Holiness was met at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations in Moscow and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation, as well as Their Graces Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.

Accompanying Pope Tawadros is a delegation comprising Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and Their Graces: Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles and Papal secretary Father Angelos Ishak and official spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Boules Haleem. 


From Moscow, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This fraternal visit is important because it marks the first visit of a Coptic Pope to Russia in 26 years and marks and demonstrates the depth of relationship between our two Churches and the many commonalities we share in our heritage and experience.”
Pope Tawadros will be received at the Egyptian Embassy on the evening of the 28 October 2014, and will undertake various official visits and pastoral engagements throughout the duration of his stay.

*Ends*

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Press Release: HRH The Prince of Wales sends message to the CopticOrthodox Community in the UK as they celebrate new year in StMargaret's Church, Westminster Abbey


PRESS RELEASE
For immediate use
22 October 2014



Coptic Orthodox Church UK

Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

Photographs from the event can be viewed HERE

 
The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom celebrated the Feast of Nayrouz, marking the new Coptic Year in St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on 21 October 2014, with a sermon by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and messages from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister, and the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
 
Speaking of his recent visit to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom, HRH The Prince of Wales praised:

“the dedication and commitment of the Coptic faithful in contributing to the life of the Church, and of this country, in many ways, some unseen and unheard.”

Going on to say:

“I very much share your deep concern for all those still facing grave challenges across North Africa and the Middle East…The Coptic Orthodox community in Egypt and, indeed, Christians across the Middle East, have often proved themselves to be those who build bridges between different groups and religions. They have shown great forbearance and longsuffering despite the on-going persecution they face, providing a humbling example of what it is to be a faithful Christian.”

In his message, Prime Minister David Cameron said:


“As our Coptic communities mark Nayrouz today, we celebrate the fantastic contribution they make to our country and we think of the many Christian communities around the world for whom this New Year is a time of fear and suffering.”

Speaking in support of the Coptic Orthodox Community, the Prime Minister went on to say:

“We call for unity in support of tolerance, in standing up for the rights of people of all faiths and backgrounds and in promoting the building blocks of democracy as the long-term basis to defeat extremism in the region…we stand alongside the Coptic Church and other Christian churches in the Middle East in pursuing these values, treasuring the long history and deep roots of these churches and their commitment to the common good.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in his message said:


“My prayer for all the faithful of the Coptic Church is that the coming year will bring peace and hope. In situations of crisis and conflict may the primacy of our inter church relations as Christians standing together and praying for one another provide us with the wisdom, courage and strength in Christ to dialogue, clarify, act and heal.”

In his sermon, Bishop Angaelos spoke of the responsibility and obligation of Christians to advocate for religious freedom for all, saying:

“Freedom is a responsibility and an obligation that we have been given by God and must take seriously. We must, when we can, speak the truth; it is not an option. We must look at the freedom we have today in standing and praying together, and seek to use that freedom to benefit all those who are not able to do the same.”

Speaking of the defiance and resolve of many who suffer gross violations of their religious freedom, he said:

“We are reminded that in the midst of this immense darkness there is an incredible light, witness, example, power, and victory. What appears to be death and defeat is actually defiance and victory for, in the cases of many of these people, it is a greater victory to have died for their Faith than to have given it up to continue otherwise. While this may be the case, and they may be defiant and victorious, we must also continue to actively advocate for them.
The unity that we express today in standing side by side for those less fortunate or free than ourselves will be a testimony to encourage us and them that they are not forgotten. We stand here in the confidence that God hears our prayers and the cries of all who call upon Him, reminded in Exodus 3:7 “I have surely seen the oppression of My people…and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrows.”

After the messages were read there was a greeting by Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain followed by addresses from The Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose, and The Lord Alton of Liverpool.

The Revd Canon Andrew Tremlett, Canon of Westminster and Rector of St Margaret's church welcomed all to the service which was attended by the Dean and Chapter of Wesminster, members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, members of the diplomatic corps and various ecumenical and official guests, as well as members of the Coptic community in the United Kingdom.



*Ends*


Photographs from the event can be viewed HERE

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Press Release: Coptic Service in St Margaret's Westminster Abbey re International Religious Freedom

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate use
21 October 2014

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom will address members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, members of the diplomatic core and various ecumenical and official guests on matters of international religious freedom and the plight of Christians in the Middle East during a Coptic service at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey on 21 October 2014.

The service will commemorate the Coptic Feast of Nayrouz, marking the new Coptic Year in remembrance of the martyrs of the past two millennia and those who continue to suffer for their Faith to date.

In the lead up to the service, Bishop Angaelos said:

“It is a blessing to celebrate this new Coptic year with friends representing the wider Christian family, other religions and the broader civic society in which we live. This is an opportunity for us all to raise our hearts in prayer for those suffering gross violations of religious freedom in Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, as well as Nigeria and other places currently overcome by conflict. We will stand in fellowship in the historic church of St Margaret’s Westminster, to mark a significant contribution at a time when unity and collaborative effort are increasingly needed.”

During the service there will be addresses from members of parliament, and messages will be delivered from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, The Right Honourable David Cameron Prime Minister, The Most Reverend Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, with a greeting by Archbishop Antonio Mennini.

*Ends*


Friday, 12 September 2014

Comment on the recent IDC Gala dinner by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

Now that the dust has settled after the recent In Defense of Christians (IDC) Gala dinner in Washington on 10 September 2014, I feel it is appropriate to comment because of the nature of my work on inter-religious relations and reconciliation in Britain and around the world.

My observation was of a large gathering of people, particularly connected to Iraq and Syria, experiencing very real pain who had come together to represent relatives either displaced, persecuted, missing, or murdered. In my own address and in my general view as a Christian and a minister I believe there is complete clarity that advocacy must be for all who suffer persecution, Christian or otherwise, and that this is a time for collaboration to this end.

As mentioned in my previous statement of 10 September 2014, “Christians, along with those who live by faith, morals, and ethics, and the international community, must collaborate to address this threat against not only innocent civilians, but our way of life as we know it today.” Having spoken at this IDC Summit on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq and Syria, I take personal exception to sweeping statements made about those in attendance as espousing "bigotry and hatred...against Jews and Israel". In light of the current very real challenges, this is not a time for such divisive and inflammatory language that demonises communities and causes rifts between them when their collaboration is most needed.

As servants of the people, clergy, politicians or otherwise, we are accountable and responsible as representatives, stewards and reconcilers to deal at the most difficult of times and circumstances with the most peaceful means to overcome apparent misunderstanding and conflict.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the Need for Collaboration to Address Violations of International Religious Freedom in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate use
10 September 2014

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office



Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on 10 September 2014 regarding the need for collaboration to address violations of international religious freedom in Iraq, Syria and the Wider Middle East.

Bishop Angaelos is delivering a keynote address at the In Defence of Christians (IDC) Summit in Washington DC on 10 September 2014 between 1-2pm (BST) 8-9am (EDT).

The three day summit, which intends to promote solidarity and strengthen advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials for those suffering in the Middle East, features human rights experts, public officials, representatives in public office, policy makers, diplomats, and Church leaders and representatives from across the Middle Eastern Christian community.

Bishop Angaelos will deliver another keynote address on Thursday 11 September at the Summit 1:30-3:30pm (BST) 8:30-10:30am (EDT).

His Grace will also be representing His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark.


Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom on the Need for Collaboration to Address Violations of International Religious Freedom in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East

The widespread brutality facing Christians and minorities in the Middle East is intensifying, and gross violations of the God-given right and freedom to practice Faith and belief, as protected by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is increasingly experienced by them in their homelands.

Heightened levels of extremism seek to eradicate indigenous Christian communities that have been a vital part of the identity, culture and heritage of the Middle East for over two millennia. Those communities that do not fit within the extremist ideology now spreading through the region are at greater risk of no longer being a part of its fabric. The model of intolerance and extremism that we are witnessing, will become legitimised and replicated throughout the Middle East and further afield if left unchallenged, and will continue to marginalise, alienate and destroy all in its path.
While Christians continue to suffer the brunt of these dangerous levels of exclusion and dehumanisation, Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities, including many Muslims, also suffer the same fate. Innocent men, women and children face extreme persecution, torture and murder for their Faith. The loss of these historic communities, with their stabilising and reconciling presence, will not only have a detrimental effect on their own countries but on the entire region.
This is a time for collaboration and a unified effort against ideologies that seek to attack the fundamental principles of human rights and civilisation that have developed over millennia. Christians, along with those who live by faith, morals, and ethics, and the international community, must collaborate to address this threat against not only innocent civilians, but our way of life as we know it today.
Rhetoric used to describe the atrocities in the Middle East must no longer remain within a religious framework, but rather deal with these events as unacceptable crimes against citizens of countries who are entitled to the basic rights and freedoms of all. It is within this context that the international community must commit itself to providing, supporting, and advocating, in every way it can, for Christians and others whose fundamental right to freedom of Faith is denied in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and the wider Middle East.
We give thanks for our brothers and sisters who despite immense challenges, continue to live their Christian Faith with extraordinary strength and resilience, but as Christians we do not pray and advocate for them alone, but for all those denied their God-given right to freedom in the Middle East.

*Ends*


For more information about the IDC Summit 2014 please visit www.IDCSummit.org 



Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Press Release: Unprecedented meeting of Middle East Church Leaders and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate use
3 September 2014

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office



In an unprecedented ecumenical gathering at Lambeth Palace hosted by The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and initiated by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, a statement was agreed by leaders and representatives of the Churches of the Middle East and the wider Christian Church in Britain.

The meeting began with a round table discussion regarding the plight of Christians and minority communities in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East. A statement was then agreed, expressing solidarity with, and advocating for, all those who continue to suffer gross violations of the fundamental right and freedom to practice their chosen faith.

The round table discussion was followed by a service of prayer to give thanks for Christians in the Middle East and to remember all those who have lost their lives or continue to suffer persecution. A short press briefing followed.

After the meeting, Bishop Angaelos said:

It is incomprehensible and unacceptable in the 21st Century that our sisters and brothers in the Middle East face intimidation and death for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, or merely being of a certain ethnic background. 

We have gathered today as leaders and representatives of Churches in the Middle East within the wider Church in Britain to stand in solidarity with those who are persecuted for their Christian faith, as well as all who fall victim to injustice.

We have spoken in one voice, calling for the continued support of Christians and minority groups across the Middle East, and pray protection upon them while they remain steadfast in the face of unimaginable challenges.

With regards to media coverage of the plight of Christians in the Middle East, Archbishop Justin said:

When you are looking at the murder and the slaughter of vast numbers of people there is never enough in terms of coverage, and it is easy to forget that is part of a global process of immense suffering. I think in looking at the Middle East we hope that the media will not move on quickly but will continue to remember those who are suffering so greatly.

The statement is below:

Meeting and Service of Prayer for Christians in the Middle East
REJOICING IN THEIR FAITH AND SHARING IN THEIR COLLECTIVE PAIN
3 September 2014
A new situation has arisen which creates a state of emergency in the Middle East for Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities. The recent increase in violence and aggression has resulted in gross violations of fundamental rights and freedoms in the region. We gathered today as Christians including those originally from the Middle East to stand in solidarity and prayer with our brothers and sisters who seek to practice their faith and belief in lands where they have been a continuing presence for centuries.
The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity, and home to indigenous Christian communities that have been an indispensable part of its history. Despite the challenges, Christians in the region were and are a stabilising and reconciling presence. Today, particularly in Iraq and Syria, they are at great risk from violence fostered by extremist ideologies which no longer see them as being part of the future. The Middle East is in desperate danger of losing an irreplaceable part of its identity, heritage and culture.
We are seeing an extreme religious ideology that knows no limits in its persecution of those who are culturally or religiously different. Those who promote this intolerance must be challenged and the perpetrators of violence held to account. The suffering of those who bear the brunt of its terror requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic group or religious minority, they come from. We must provide relief and safety for those displaced and in fear of their lives in consultation with our partners in the region. We must also bring pressure to bear on those who can provide security to those affected.
In meeting and praying together, we give thanks for our brothers and sisters as they continue to live their Christian faith with strength and perseverance. We commit to continue to stand with them in prayer, to speak for freedom from persecution for Christians and all other religious communities and those of no faith who live as minority groups across the region. We also continue to urge Her Majesty’s Government to work within the international community to safeguard and provide for all those affected.
To our brothers and sisters in the Middle East, We “share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance.” Revelation 1:9

*Ends*


Thursday, 14 August 2014

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, on the anniversary of the unprecedented attacks on Churches in Egypt, and the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East

As we witness the atrocities in Iraq and Syria, and share the pain of those who are displaced and have lost loved ones, we also remember those commemorating the first anniversary of painful events that unfolded in Egypt over the coming days. Whether considering communities and families who lost loved ones in the pro-Morsi protests in the suburbs of Cairo, or the scores of Christian communities whose churches and places of ministry throughout Egypt were subsequently attacked, the continuing need for healing and reconciliation is ever present.

These events in Egypt are now an all-too-distant memory for many around the world, but for those personally touched by them, there remains real pain. For most, this pain is accompanied by a sense of immense loss, while for some who take a more radical line, by anger and a need for violent retribution. This need drove a small minority, a year ago, to retaliate against the scapegoated Christian community of Egypt that chose the extraordinary path of non-retaliation despite the unjustified and unprecedented level of attacks. Their restraint was, and continues to be, a powerful witness that has provided a strong foundation for peace and reconciliation.

Whether addressing Egypt, Iraq, Syria, or the broader Middle East, peace, stability, cohesion and reconciliation are traits of unified and unifying states, and can not come about without the support of a proactive and intentional effort from those who govern them.

With the atrocities we are witnessing at the forefront of our minds, we continue to advocate for those, regardless of race, religion or belief, who are suffering, and pray God’s grace and strength upon them as they currently endure immense challenges and persecution, and endeavour to move ahead from a place of mourning and loss.

As the situation facing Christians and minority groups in the Middle East increasingly spirals to new and dangerous levels of exclusion and dehumanisation, the need is intensified for both the unified Body of Christ within the Christian family, and the global community as a whole, to stand in solidarity with those suffering, condemn acts of brutality, and provide whatever assistance may be needed, while at the same time, explore every possible means of healing, rebuilding and restoring of communities and lives.  

We continue to hold those suffering great struggles, indignity and the loss of precious human life in our prayers, that grace, healing and strength be bestowed upon them all at this time. We also pray for those committing these atrocities, that they will one day realise the sanctity and dignity granted equally by God to every human life.